How to be a Bad Asian: Let your kid get a B

Life is hard enough as an Asian. Not all of us can get perfect SAT  scores, graduate from medical school or trick out a Honda Civic. The  pressure to embrace our culture remains but sometimes, we just don’t  want to. How To Be A Bad Asian is an ongoing series of personal essays  by the 8Asians writers about what sets us apart from the API community,  how we deal with the stereotypes that we put upon ourselves and why we  all can’t be that perfect Asian. It’s time to be bad.

Yes, I’m a bad Asian – in particular, a bad Asian parent. I let my kids do the following:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • watch TV and play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activites
  • get grades less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject
  • no play the piano or violin

My kids have never asked to be in a school play, so I couldn’t say I let them join one or complain about not being in a school play.   I guess I’m no Amy Chua!

Although she apparently isn’t the “Superior Chinese mom” portrayed by that Wall Street Journal excerpt, I have to admit that I worry sometimes that I am not stricter.    In an excellent Disgrasian post on Amy Chua’s book, Jen suggests that these days, there is no need to go so hard, but I don’t see things getting easier for my kids, whose generation is predicted to have a poorer and harder life than my generation.   Many contend that college admission is harder for Asian American kids, and the public college system, particular in here California where we live, is highly stressed, and what slots are available are becoming increasingly more competitive to obtain.  Even if you get in, it is getting harder to get through because of impacted programs.  A college admissions officer told me that as a result, private colleges are seeing much more demand and also becoming more selective.  I just wonder if I doing them a disservice by not being so hard on them.

Number One Son had one B+ on their latest report card (the rest are A’s).    It looks like The Daughter will get second honors and not first (Number Two Son got some A-‘s, but I’ll let those slide :-))..    I’ll ask my children how they can improve and tell that I expect them to try to improve, but I won’t call them garbage or anything like that.  Guess I am just a bad Asian parent!

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Author: Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.